A’s Do Not Extend Qualifying Offers to Colon or Balfour
The Oakland A’s on Monday opted not to extend $14.1M qualifying offers to starting pitcher Bartolo Colon or closer Grant Balfour, meaning that both are free to sign free agent contracts with new teams beginning on Tuesday. Should either sign with new clubs, the A’s will not receive any compensatory draft picks.
It was basically a given that Oakland would not extend the offer to Balfour, 35, who picked up 38 saves in 2013 en route to his first All-Star appearance. The A’s customarily do not pay high prices for relief pitchers, especially with younger arms such as Ryan Cook and Sean Doolittle primed to assume closing duties should Balfour opt to sign with a new club. While it’s hard to imagine the A’s bullpen without the fiery Australian flamethrower coming in for the ninth inning, that seems likely to be the reality entering the 2014 campaign.
Colon, however, could be a different story. The 40-year old was an absolute bargain in 2013, going 18-6 with a 2.65 ERA in 30 starts for the Green and Gold after signing a one-year, $3M after his suspension-shortened 2012 season. He and the team have publicly expressed interest in a reunion for 2014 and beyond, though it remains to be seen if Colon’s value on the free agent market will preclude his signing with a new team as well.
Should Colon depart for a higher paycheck somewhere else, some intriguing names have emerged as potential veteran starting pitching options for the A’s. Among the starting pitchers not extended qualifying offers from their 2013 teams on Monday are Tim Hudson of the Atlanta Braves, Bronson Arroyo of the Cincinnati Reds and Josh Johnson of the Toronto Blue Jays.
What’s more, the A’s are said to be one of a handful of MLB teams interested in Hudson, who will turn 39 next July. Hudson, of course, began his career with the A’s, making thoughts of a reunion an interesting one among A’s fans. He only went 8-7 with a 3.97 ERA in 21 starts for Atlanta in an injury-plagued 2013, but should he be interested in a short (and economically-friendly) contract, it could be in the realm of possibility to see him back on the A’s once again.
Should the A’s enter the free agent market in lieu of re-signing Colon, Johnson is another option. The right-hander had a disastrous season with the underachieving Blue Jays in ’13, going 2-8 with a 6.20 ERA in 16 starts. Because of that, he’ll likely be seeking a short deal that will give him the opportunity to show potential suitors that he’s still capable of pitching effectively.
Considering how the Coliseum is commonly known as a ‘pitcher’s park’, Johnson could presumably get back to the kind of success he had with the Miami Marlins in 2008-2010 – assuming he stays healthy, of course.
If Colon opts to sign with a new club willing to give him more money than the A’s, look for Oakland to get creative with the free agent market regarding bringing in a veteran presence to anchor the rotation in ’14.
Players can begin signing free agent contracts beginning at midnight tonight Eastern time, so get ready for an active Hot Stove season…
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